Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Do you remember these?

Back in 1971 a company called "Third Eye" produced a series of black light posters that were available at mass retail. Several of these were comprised of enlarged individual panels and pinups from the Marvel comics of the day and included art by Jack Kirby, John Buscema and Steve Ditko.

I recall seeing these at a long gone department store chain called "Treasure Island" when I was a kid. They were displayed high up on a wall far out of reach of ten year old hands. Many of Marvel's mainstay heroes were depicted on Third Eye's posters including Spiderman, the Silver Surfer, Medusa, Doctor Strange and Thor. In those days, I was a 'DC only' kid so the surreal images that often defied superhero stereotypes (made even moreso by the flourescent inks) left me a little befuddled while at the same time creating a desire for the 'cosmic'.

By the time I had migrated from DC to Marvel comics, these posters seemingly disappeared from retail thus creating another unfullfilled fragment of my youth. Recently, while on an internet nostalgia hunt, I came across a website that featured images of some of these psychadelic posters from the 70s. They were just as amazing as I remembered them to be.

I immediately fell in love with a poster that featured Dr. Donald Blake with his alter ego Thor flying through the heavens above him. This is Jack Kirby's art at its finest! I began to seek out the Thor poster and found auctions for several of Third Eye's posters on the dreaded eBay. The bidding for the Thor poster quickly soared out of my range, so I half heartedly bid on my second favorite which was a poster featuring Odin and Hela by John Buscema. The Buscema art in this poster is very Kirby-esque though I cannot place which issue of Thor the art is taken from.

I never really expected to win the auction as most of the bids for these relics of the 70s were running way over where I set my maximum bid. Much to my surprise, I won the auction and when the poster arrived, it was in almost new condition. The quality of the printing on the poster was immediately apparent. As someone who worked for commercial printing companies for 16 years, I really appreciated the thick paper and the wonderful silk screened image all in vibrant day-glo and starkly black inks. It's amazing that something of this quality sold as a novelty item for a couple of dollars in 1971. I could imagine the screens being prepared and the pungent smell of ink as it was forced through tightly stretched fabric before finding it's final home on finely milled parchment. I now felt even better about my purchase as I realized I possessed a piece of graphic arts history as well as a pop culture collectible.

Maybe I'll stumble across the Kirby Thor poster at an affordable price in the future. In the meantime, I'll settle for having my retina scorched by my glorious Buscema wonder print.


Anonymous Charles said...

They also had a poster of the splash page from the Barry Smith Conan story "Keepers of the Crypt" from Conan issue #8, which hung on my wall for years, and was purchased by me at Six Flags Over Georgia.
Yours is from Mighty Thor issue #190, "And So to Die." Page 13, if you want to get technical....

January 03, 2007 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Bulletman Silver Saguaro said...

Dang Lanny, that's some nice poster there! When I first saw it I thought it was taken from the DC 'New Gods' comic. I hope you got a black light!

January 03, 2007 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on your find! Just got the black light poster bug myself. 16 years old was 25 years ago, but I had 'em all over my room and am looking for a little fun decoration again.

March 28, 2008 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have four of the Marvel Third Eye Posters which my parents bought me at a used book store in Buffalo when I was a kid many eons ago. Fortunately, I kept them. I just put them up again.

They are:
Silver Surfer - Jack Kirby
Fantastic Four - Jack Kirby
Dr. Strange - Marie Severin
Dr. Strange w/Eternity - Gene Colan

August 17, 2008 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I owned the Thor/Donald Blake poster you referenced above when I was 11. Comics cost 25 cents back then, and I lived and breathed my Marvel heroes! Thor was my favorite.
About 6 years ago, I found it again and won the auction. It was in near mint condition, absolutly mindblowing, like a hit of two-way windowpane! It is now museum mounted and framed, and hanging (on loan) in my 14 yr old son's bedroom...

September 12, 2009 10:14 PM  

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